TULSA, Okla. — A Craig County couple is in federal custody for allegedly failing to feed their six-month-old child and using a fist to hit the infant in the eye.
Joseph James Burris, 20, and Chloe Jayde Burris, 20, both of Vinita, are indicted in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma with child neglect in Indian Country and evidence tampering. Joseph Burris also faces a charge of tampering with a witness by corrupt persuasion and misleading conduct.
He also faces a domestic violence charge in Cherokee Nation Court.
The federal charges stem from Cherokee Nation and Craig County District Court charges.
Department of Human Services workers were responding to the Vinita residence on May 18 on a complaint of children being left in a hot vehicle.
During the call, an infant was found to have “bruising and swelling above his right eye” that appeared to be caused “by a closed fist knuckled punch.”Cherokee Nation arrest warrant for Joseph and Chloe Burris.
Chloe Burris’s two other children, a three and two-year-old, are in state custody, records show.
“The bruising is … circular in shape, slightly separated, and consistent with the pattern of a closed fist,” the affidavit states.
When asked if the child had been taken to the hospital, the parents said, “No. It would have looked bad,” the affidavit states according to a Cherokee Nation arrest warrant.
A medical examination showed the infant had a possible brain bleed and was admitted to St. Francis Children’s Hospital in Tulsa, the affidavit states.
The infant was also very underweight and resembled a “newborn at six months old,” the affidavit states.
The child had marks on both of his pointer fingers – one mark was like a burn mark that was in the process of healing, the affidavit states. The infant also had small scratches throughout his body and a scratch on his nose that was also in the process of healing.
The medical report stated “There is a significant facial injury that is inconsistent with the proposed mechanism of hitting his head on tile while rolling over. While this is an appropriate developmental milestone, the force of rolling over would not produce such a large bruise and swelling. This alone suggests excessive force,” the affidavit states.
Due to the “highly suspicious marks” on the infant’s hands, as well as bleeding in the brain” is consistent with child physical abuse, the affidavit states.
The parents and an alleged babysitter reported no bruises on the child the last morning the babysitter watched the infant – which coincides with the day DHS discovered the alleged abuse, the affidavit states.
Chloe Burris filed a protective order in Craig County District against Joseph Burris in December 2022. According to court records the protective order was dismissed in January 2023 because Chloe failed to attend the hearing, court records show. She followed up with a second protective order on Feb. 1 and Joseph Burris filed a protective order against Chloe the following day, court records show.
The couple were married Feb. 22 and the protective order was dismissed by both parties on March 10, court records show.